The punitive action taken by the NCP in the form of notices issued against four of its party men, including a junior minister, for anti-party activities while campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls shows their desperate attempt to find possible scapegoats.
The Congress had set the precedent when it suspended seven of its leaders in Chandrapur, for the same reason. These moves of the ruling combine are nothing but a delayed reaction, considering that the elections have already taken place in the state. Congress’ action against its city mayor and six others from Chandrapur has come late, as the polling was held there on April 10.
NCP, too, took action against its members only recently, whereas the polling was held on April 17. Had both the parties been so keen to nip the rebellion in the bud, stern action would have been employed while campaigning was on. This would have benefited the party candidates, as those working undercover would have immediately discontinued their activities.
The move seems to come at a time when the Congress and NCP have every reason to believe that that their performance in Maharashtra has been disastrous. The party ministers fear that the grand alliance of BJP and Shiv Sena, along with RPI (A) and two other smaller parties, will put up a tough fight to threaten their position.
One wonders what the parties are trying to establish with these notices, when the biggest challenge is going to be the state assembly elections in October. Both Congress and NCP will have a tough time if the BJP-led NDA assumes power at the Centre, with Narendra Modi as its head. If this does happen, both the parties may have to rely on their local level leaders.
The move is nothing short of an admission by the party leadership that it has deployed wrong candidates in local units, who dared to challenge the party discipline. The people chosen to face the music are the nothing but scapegoats.